Bat & Ball Station restoration project is on the right track
YOU may soon be able to buy train tickets at Bat & Ball Station in Sevenoaks again thanks to a community restoration project.
When the ticket office was closed down in 1991 and the station became unmanned, a ‘permit to travel’ machine was put on the station platform. This was later replaced by a ‘card payment only’ ticket machine in 2016.
But new plans to restore the Bat & Ball Station building could see the reintroduction of ticket sales which it is hoped will encourage greater use of the station.
The refurbishment took another step forward recently when Lord Sackville, Town Councillors and other interested parties gathered to officially launch the project.
The main focus will be the refurbishment of the station building, which has been boarded up since 1991 and gradually deteriorated as a consequence.
The Victorian property was constructed in 1862 and was the first station in Sevenoaks. It is believed the Station was named after the nearby former Bat & Ball Inn and is old enough to have possibly been used by Queen Victoria when she visited Knole in the 19th century.
The renovation of the building has been made possible by a grant of £755,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will enable the provision of two public toilets, two community rooms and a café selling Kent produce and heritage information at the site, as well as ticket sales.
Michelle Roffe, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South East, said: “With its Royal connection as Queen Victoria’s station this is a fascinating part of our industrial heritage that is sure to delight the local community and visitors of all ages once returned to its former glory.
“We are delighted to support this project to restore the Bat & Ball Station, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”
The renovation of the station building is part of Sevenoaks Town Council’s Northern Sevenoaks Masterplan for the regeneration of the area and will be complementing the new Bat & Ball Centre, which is to be constructed on the opposite side of the railway. All the change is hoped to be integral to wider development in the area that will bring about new leisure, business, and homes.
The restoration of the station is part of wider public interest as well, having been identified as an area of concern in relation to personal safety. It is believed that investment and a presence in the building will improve this perception and act as a deterrent as there are rumours that it has been a meeting place for people carrying out illegal activities.
Cllr Roderick Hogarth, Chairman of the Community Infrastructure Committee, said: “The Bat & Ball Station was once and now, with this significant grant from the HLF, will become again a wonderful asset for the community in Sevenoaks, especially the many hundreds of school children who use it daily and the growing number of people who will come to enjoy the facilities it will provide.
“The HLF grant enables the whole project (total value of investment approximately £1.3m) to move ahead and we look forward to opening this restored, Grade II Listed building in 2018.”
It is expected that restoration works will be completed in late 2018.